Calling for net zero 'plus'

Published: 16 March 2021

Last update: 29 March 2021

Blog post
national trust net zero

New research by the Environment Agency supports our approach to tackling climate change. The Agency's research again shows that a degree of change is inevitable. That's why, as well as reducing our emissions and capturing more carbon in our land, we're adapting the way we look after places to better protect and heal them from the impacts of climate change.

Speaking at the Whitehall and Industry Group's Net Zero Roundtable, Environment Agency Chief Executive Sir James Bevan urged businesses and government to adopt 'net zero plus' – reducing emissions while also adapting to the more extreme weather and rising sea levels that are inevitable due to damage already done.

Earlier this month we launched a pioneering Climate Hazards map that demonstrates the scale of threat facing our heritage and landscapes. By identifying these potential hazards facing our places we can pinpoint locations where we can intervene. Adaption could mean nature-based solutions such as holding floodwater in upstream habitats or planting drought resistant species, or adapting our care of built and cultural heritage to changed environmental conditions.

Explore our climate change Hazards map >

Patrick Begg, Outdoors and Natural Resources Director said 'Net zero ambitions are a crucial step but - as Sir James Bevan makes clear – they alone aren't enough. Investment in green jobs; better access to nature and fresher air in towns and cities; projects to restore peatlands that lock up carbon; and an ambitious environment bill with targets for nature's recovery – these are all crucial for a healthier, more resilient future. Together with communities, partners and government, and alongside our own net zero commitment, we'll do everything we can to restore and protect nature and heritage from the biggest challenge it has ever faced.'

Tree planting in Snowdonia, Wales
national trust net zero
Tree planting in Snowdonia, Wales

Tackling these challenges in our places

In the Brecon Beacons, when the underlying land is exposed to drought and high rainfall, this combines with impacts of land management such as grazing methods with reduced tree and tall plant cover that can slow the flow and hold soil in place, to create landslides. In turn, this has meant soil and silt travel into reservoirs and pollute drinking water. To resolve this, we need to look at our land management such as planting more trees in gullies to help hold the soil. Much of the area is common land so we're working closely with local graziers to support their business while making land more resilient in the future. We also have partnership support from Dwr Cymru, which supplies drinking water and wastewater services to most of Wales and parts of western England that border Wales and have been cleaning up the contaminated drinking water.

You can find out more about what we're doing to respond to the risks of climate change impacts in more of our places.

Climate change hazard map showing overheating and humidity 2020-2060

Facing climate change together 

We’ve developed a hazard map that illustrates the threat climate change poses to the places we care for. Take a look at the map and discover some of the other ways we're tackling climate change and how you can get involved too. In the lead up to COP26, we're highlighting a series of places where climate change is having an impact and how we're responding. See what’s going on in the Skell Valley in North Yorkshire, our latest place in the spotlight, and find out what's on in Great Big Green Week, 18-26 September.